SICILIAN GIRL, THE: DVD
On November 5, 1991 in Balta, Rita Atria (Veronica D'Agostino), a 17-year-old Sicilian girl, goes to see Mafia-hunting judge Paolo Borsellino (Gerard Jugnot) to denounce the Mafia system that was responsible for the murder of her father (Marcello Mazzarella) and her brother (Carmelo Galati). It is the first time that a young woman from a Mafia family rebels and breaks the code of silence. From that moment on, Rita's days are numbered. She only has nine months to live...
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Rita got angry. So would you. So do we. This true story is different from most Mafia crime movies in that it focuses not on the rotten crims but on the courageous 17 year old who has had the gumption to keep detailed notes of what she saw in her Sicilian village of Balta, after her father, and then her brother were murdered by the local Mafia. Rita (Veronica D'Agostino) looks like the sort of young woman who could well live in such a village; she's feisty and determined, but she's no glamour puss. She brings Rita to life in a tangible and utterly credible way. That, and the strength of the supporting cast, make this an engaging and gripping film.
The much liked Gerard Jugnot (especially as the teacher in The Choir, 2004) takes on the role of the investigative judge Paolo Borsellino, in Palermo, to whom Rita finally comes with her diaries. Jugnot is a nuanced actor and capable of saying much with a simple look or movement.
The root of the problem for Balta is the importance of the drug trade, which is the new business model for the Mafia. Having carved up the territories, the gangs don't want either the decent, honest men, like Rita's father, Don Michele (Marcello Mazzarella) nor the honest cops like Borsellino, to get in the way. And certainly not young women, like Rita; in the past, the villagers would all stay silent in the face of murder and intimidation - out of fear. Rita is not afraid - even though she has reason to be. And despite her mother's (Lucia Sardo) lack of support, one of the most devastating aspects of the story. "You poor, mad fool," she tells Rita. "It's always been like this."
Although the focus is on Rita, there are scenes depicting the violence, and a terrific (if a little underlit) sequence in a cemetery where Rita is saying farewell to her dead father and brother before being whisked away by police amidst a gunfight with the men local Mafia leader Don Salvo (Mario Pupella) sent.
Rita is put in a witness protection program in Rome awaiting the trial - and she knows she will in all likelihood be killed by the people she has identified. The showdown in court is directed with the same dynamic focus as the first two acts of the film, taking us through a range of emotions that culminate in a resolution that's unexpected and powerfully moving, with the last notes of Pasquale Catalano's haunting score.
May 13, 2010
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SICILIAN GIRL, THE: DVD (M)
La siciliana ribelle
CAST: Veronica D'Agostino, Gerard Jugnot, Giulia Ando, Roberto Bonura, Paolo Briguglia, Francesco Casisa, Giusi Cataldo, Mariana Faja, Marcello Mazzarella, Carmelo Galati, Lucia Sardo
PRODUCER: Simonetta Amenta, Tilde Corsi, Gianni Romoli
DIRECTOR: Marco Amenta
SCRIPT: Marco Amenta, Sergio Donati, Gianni Romoli
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Luca Bigazzi
EDITOR: Mirco Garrone
MUSIC: Pasquale Catalano
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marcella Di Carlo
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD5.1
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Vendetta Films
DVD RELEASE: May 10, 2010